Cluster & Farnbauer - Live in Vienna 1980 2xLP
Label: Bureau B
The first live recording of Cluster (Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius), and their only collaboration with Austrian musician Joshi Farnbauer (drums and percussion), recorded in Vienna in 1980. A sonic throwback to their early years, reissued on CD. Were one to be presented with two separate stacks of Cluster recordings, one composed of their studio work, the other of live performances, an innocent listener might conclude they are the efforts of two completely different artists. This would understandably have been the case in 1980, when the structured, tuneful miniatures of 1979's Grosses Wasser and 1981's Curiosum were unlikely bookends to the sprawling electroacoustic abstractions of Live In Vienna. But as fans of the idiosyncratic duo already knew, Cluster's trajectory was always a restless one, more about disruption than gentle evolution. As Live In Vienna's sound engineer, Eric Spitzer-Marlyn, recalls, Cluster's 1980 performance at the Wiener Festwochen Alternativ would have been called a "happening" in an earlier time. Growing out of the Actionism movement of the '60s, the festival was more performance art than music concert. Disdainful of the tired, commodified art of the establishment, it was a sound marked by brash, improvised, avant-garde techniques. Spitzer-Marlyn also recalls that it was loud. For those who had grown up with Cluster's accessible '70s work with Eno and Plank, and their collaboration with Michael Rother in Harmonia, Live In Vienna's slow-growing swaths of electronics and noise must have represented a bit of a shock. But it was really more of a throwback to Cluster's earliest years, when they performed dense electronic "jams" with Conrad Schnitzler as Kluster. The addition in Vienna of Joshi Farnbauer, a friend and fellow artist who played percussion and explored the sound possibilities of his own sculptures, also mirrored the fluid and spontaneous configurations that characterized those times. As chance would have it, they never met up with Farnbauer again.